Chapter 4
Policy: Rules of the Game

Anonymous Resident Tracking with Wi-Fi in a World of Social Distancing

Internet technology has become integral for today’s changing user demands. It enabled millions of students to switch from offline to online study when COVID-19 hit in just one click. However, operators have yet to leverage the true power of Wi-Fi data. New tools and features are coming online using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth location data to deliver new experiences and operational excellence. Glide predicts that Wi-Fi data will help operators manage social distancing without sacrificing the privacy of their tenants.

Wi-Fi data can be used to differentiate properties, flag where investment in resident experience will have the biggest impact and make commercial contributions by helping operators make informed decisions. Property operators can use technology to enrich the way residents engage with the built environment and use data trends to make a property more efficient. Location-based services run over existing Wi-Fi networks and use anonymous MAC addresses to understand how visitors move around a property. These services can be switched on Glide’s existing deployments to quickly evaluate the capability and value for each user, allowing a bespoke service according to customer needs.

The use of data to monitor movement and avoid crowded areas has been adopted by Transport for London since 2019 to improve their service. They have followed the principles of Privacy by Design, a concept that means data privacy is taken into account during the design stage and the subsequent life cycle of the project. To ensure individual privacy, these location aware services monitor the patterns of movement of groups rather than individuals.

Residents can move around the building with peace of mind thanks to location aware services (Shutterstock)

Creating a safe living environment for residents

With a whole range of features such as proximity reporting, resident and staff tracking, and amenity traffic reporting, location-based services will play an essential role in the maintenance and enjoyment of a safe living environment. With increased COVID-19 restrictions likely, operators could use Wi-Fi technology like AV System’s Linkyfi Social Distancing and Occupancy to ensure communal amenities are used to their full potential while following the health and safety regulations and operators will be able to track the occupancy of a building with ease. We’ve seen how traffic has been mapped to show the population’s behaviour during lockdown and how Google has used their location data to produce Community Mobility reports - more localised location-based services could offer even more specific insights.

Data collection and analysis used to be more abstract and were normally considered to be an area only for specialists. Now, it can be used in myriad ways. As technology advances, so does the way in which it can be used to enrich our lives and improve resident experiences.

Data such as dwell times can inform social distancing in residences (Location Based Services Brochure Glide 2019)

Maximising your operational excellence

Location-based services can also bring peace of mind before and during the moving in process. The technology could be used to design virtual and interactive accommodation tours and could also be used to fast-track residents through check-in with an off-peak speedy boarding style experience.

In addition, thanks to the reporting data on footfall, route mapping, dwell time and heat maps, property managers can have an accurate view of how the property is being used, allowing them to notify residents on less busy times in the gyms, cafes and other communal spaces. Plus, the data will also give operators a clear idea of the levels of occupancy of a building, which could prove crucial for security in an emergency like a fire alarm as the heat mapping can drastically reduce the time spent searching the building by emergency services.

Location aware services can allow residents to use communal spaces securely (Shutterstock)

Location technology is the next broadband

The possibilities for location technologies are limitless. They will be used by architects to predict the need for amenities in certain places, by hospitals to regulate visitor flow and countless other industries. In a world where the need for secure data on footfall becomes more important and with countries like Singapore using location data to control the COVID-19 epidemic, these technologies could soon become as essential as broadband itself - which is why it’s important to ensure that the services used are as unintrusive as possible.

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